Written by adam on Nov 2, 2007
Making Our Way the Only Way We Know How
Fear is the path of the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to ... suffering.
-Jedi Master Yoda
So many other businesses and media outlets have realized the power of bloggers and have put us to good use. Hell, tech bloggers are sometimes very well respected in the industry. But there are still some holdouts who do not want to accept the new world order and are afraid of what it means to them. For we bloggers are the new media. But with the mighty pens (or keyboards) that we wield, we also brandish our cash and credit cards. We are consumers, too. And we have the power over you.
This article on ABC13.com seems to sum up what I feel about the way some people view blogs, especially in the food business. There are people who embrace it and view it as a good way to get feedback. And there are those people who look upon us with disdain because we are open and honest. Food Celeb Mario Batali has been quoted as saying, "Many of the anonymous authors who vent on blogs rant their snarky vituperatives from behind the smoky curtain of the web. This allows them a peculiar and nasty vocabulary that seems to be taken as truth by virtue of the fact that it has been printed somewhere. Unfortunately, this also allows untruths, lies and malicious and personally driven dreck to be quoted as fact."
Batali rails against the anonymous bloggers who hide their identities to remain above being held accountable for their words. While I dislike anonymous bloggers as well, the power is still there. While this kind of thing can product untruth and lies, the malicious and personally driven "dreck" is our right to publish.
I see this is a manifestation of fear, which of course leads to anger and hatred, etc. The ability of a blogger to be able to say that some restaurant is awful and the soup tastes like horse piss is a powerful force. "Legitimate" food writers for well-respected publication would not be able to phrase something so eloquently for a mass-media production. But bloggers can. We have the ability go to a restaurant, eat the food, take in the service and have our review posted on the internet by bedtime.
And now, the restaurant people are in complain mode again. It seems that restaurateurs do not like it when bloggers write reviews of restaurants within the first six months of it opening. Like, they want US to give THEM a break for six months because they don't have their act together. As my fellow blogger, Robert Fernandez said, " ... I don't have, never had and will never get 6 months to get my act together in my profession. I'm expected to step in and do my job well from the minute I show up. Why is it any different for chefs and restaurants?"
It is not, or at least it should not be.
As a blogger of nearly 5 years now, I follow the battle of traditional media versus modern media very closely. We're looked down upon because we did not spend years in college writing for crappy University publications or sports columns for small-town newspapers. We have no formal training or experience in writing, reporting, or journalism. Yet, we can form our own publication within minutes on the internet and be heard by the world.
You see, that's a scary thought to a lot of people. They're afraid of what we reperesent. We represent a powerful force of information and a force of consumerism. And to a lesser extent, I believe we represent the face of an irrational fear that we are out to take their jobs. This is not true. We're just out here in the blogosphere doing what we're doing.
As far as the restaurants go, I would suggest they get their act together before the doors open. Or just don't complain about it when you get bad press, no matter what the source is. The best way to deal with it is to rise up, make it better, and do the best job you can.
Bloggers may never be respected as writers in the traditional media outlets. I'm fine with that; I like where I am because the only one I have to answer to is myself.
Responses to "Making Our Way the Only Way We Know How" ...
Great post Adam.
Batali laments "Many of the anonymous authors"
I'm old enough to remember when all the "legitimate" food critics guarded their identity vigorously. Even Frank Bruni, who is currently at the New York Times tried to remain anonymous and unrecognizable until he was outed.
Ruth Reichl wrote a famous dual review about Le Cirque where she went once in disguise and another as herself. Can you guess which time she had a better meal?
Food critics should be unknown to the chefs. Bloggers allow that and help keep the chefs on their game.
Marshall McLuhan had it right in the 1960's. The medium is the message. Of course, he was speaking of the traditional media of that time. Even though he is known as the original commentator on the electronic age, I don't know that he envisioned blogs as a medium, but my guess is he would embrace the idea. I actually met him once, and (by virtue of my college courses) spent hours editing audio tape of his lectures. He was normally drunk by 10am, rambled, etc., but the end result was well thought out philosophy on the way that all media affect public thought, or the way that the medium becomes the story.
Well thought out post, Adam. I am in total agreement that new restaurants should be at their absolute best upon opening their delights to the public. Gee, if I went to a restaurant and they whinned about not being ready for quality service, I'd feel like getting up and leaving.
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Since winter of 2004, I have been exploring the world of cooking and helping out my fellow men in their quests to better themselves in the kitchen. My name is Adam Byrd, you can learn more about me and my mission on my about page. Connect with me on MySpace, ThisNext, or FoodCandy.